Published March, 2018
Nushawn Williams Case Background and Talking Points, The Center for HIV Law and Policy (updated 2021)
The 1997 case of Nushawn Williams, a 19-year-old Black man who was accused of having sex with younger women while he was HIV positive, sparked an extraordinary amount of media coverage -- all sensationalist, typified by headlines referring to Williams as an "AIDS Monster." More than 20 years later, Williams remains confined despite the fact that he completed the sentences he received when he pleaded guily to reckless endangerment and statutory rape in 2010.
He now has been locked up for nearly a decade longer than his original maximum sentence, with no release date in sight. The reason: days before he was about to be released from prison, the New York Attorney General filed a petition to have Williams indefinitely confined at Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy, New York, as a "dangerous sex offender" based almost entirely on the fact that he was sexually active while HIV positive.
This case marks the first and only time in New York State, and possibly the country, that a person has been civilly confined based largely on HIV status. If Nushawn had been reckless and killed someone, even with the maximum sentence for reckless homicide he would be free.
This fact sheet was created to provide the basic background of Williams' case, and talking points to assist advocates working to Free Nushawn. For more information, visit FreeNushawn.com.
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